LAST WEEK'S GOAL: Edit in short bursts to limit strain on elbows – specifically, edit for 30 minutes at a time, twice per day, Thursday through Monday.
Tuesday morning I guiltily entered the confessional, I mean I attended my weekly “check-in” to report how I did on my goals. It wasn’t my proudest moment. I had no idea how to answer the questions “why didn’t you meet your goals?” and “how can you do better this week?”
That’s when another demon reared her ugly head: Fatalism. Fay for short. “I’ll never break these habits,” I told my mentor, channeling Fay. “It’s hopeless. My novel will never be published. My only literary legacy will be a massive volume of email.”
If this were a theme-heavy, cautionary parable meant to provoke deep thought and meaningful discussion, perhaps that’s how it would end. But I don’t write that kind of story. Nor the kind where demons win. Besides, my mentor wouldn’t give up on me that easily.
The real story is that my mentor asked me to reflect on a time when I had been successful meeting a goal. I recalled that just three weeks ago I'd strutted around this blog after meeting my writing goals. So what was different that week?
What had kept eMal, Bruce and Snickerdoodle at bay?
1. A product-based goal (i.e. edit 50 pages) rather than a time-based goal (i.e. 30 minutes)
2. Daily goals in addition to a weekly goal
3. A promise to myself to finish the daily goal before going to sleep for the night
“So revise this week’s plan to reflect that,” my mentor said. “And in addition, have you thought about rewarding yourself for good behavior? Even demon-riddled prisoners in deep, dark dungeons have that to strive for.”
Hmm. This sounds like good advice. “I’ll try it,” I said.
Divide weekly goals into specific, measurable daily goals:
Wednesday – revise outline
Thursday through Monday – revise one chapter per day
Write each morning for two hours or until achieving daily goal, whichever comes first.
Don’t go to sleep for the night until meeting daily goal.
When goal is met, reward self with a little TV-time with the family.
So take that, eMal. Piss off, Fay. Hasta la vista, Snickerdoodle.
All I have to say to you is: